An English summer, sunshine and rain means plants grow including meadows and elder.
Both in my studio and in the kitchen I have been getting summery.
The garden certainly neaded some attention this week, but today I am able to relax and enjoy a refreshing glass of elderflower cordial.
Look out for the creamy white elderflowers. Go out prepared with some scissors and bags for collecting. Something to help lower the branches can help harvesting these slightly scented flowers which can tend to grow high up.
Since this is the only time of year they can be found, it is worth collecting a good number of heads to make a large batch of cordial concentrate. This can be frozen to be enjoyed throughout the year!
Once home put 2½ kg white sugar (either granulated or caster) and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat.
Pare the zest from 2 unwaxed lemons using a potato peeler, then slice the lemons.
Give the elderflowers a gentle swish around in cold water to loosen any dirt or bugs. Gently shake cut off any leaves and stem and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and 85g citric acid (from chemists)
Stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Alternatively set up a jelly bag. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through.
Discard the bits left in the towel/jelly bag. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.
There are lots of different recipes, some are to be found in this Telegraph article
In my studio I have been able to celebrate summer, even during rain. I have been using the faux chenille technique to create a summer meadow panel.
This is an easy technique and I suggest it to help practice straight line sewing on a sewing machine.
It is a great way to use fabric which you don’t know how else to use, such as bright, garish fabric designs! In this meadow there is a bright yellow printed scarf as well as a plain orange fabric and layers of sheer green fabric. These were all pinned securely onto a base fabric. I chose to vary the width of my stitching lines and have some a little wavy. I wanted a meadow rather than imaculate lawn effect!
You need a slash rotary cutter which can usually be got for less than £10. This allows you to cut through all the fabric layers except for the base one. There is an offer on one from stuff4crafts – ebay also have one.
You then need to get rough, with your slashed fabric. I use a suede brush which I find works well, but rubbing and washing also help to fluff open the layers – so you get to see glimses of the different fabric layers.
I would love to see your faux chenille projects.
If you would like to have a go, then this is an option at several of the textile art workshops I have planned. All forthcoming workshops I am doing are listed on my textile art facebook page.
I hope you get chance to get outside to enjoy your summer, and hopefully walk in a meadow, maybe finding some elderflowers.